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RACE TO THE BOTTOM

THE RACE


I can do all things through Christ except for lower the price. I was at at a local Cobb County Chamber of Commerce meeting where all of the small business owners were asked to give their thirty second elevator pitch, and this was on the back of someone’s shirt. It made me laugh, but it also speaks to the “psychology” of getting a deal. People are all really good at comparing prices, but we are aren’t really that great at knowing what something should cost. This is one of the reasons why someone will typically get multiple quotes/prices on what they are intending to purchase.

Just the other day I was brought in to look at an upscale 7,000 square foot restaurant remodel in midtown Atlanta, GA. After making the initial site visit we provided an initial proposal that outlined our services, and the fee schedule. A few days later the owner calls back, and stated that another architect had quoted them a price that was half of what ours was. So the obvious question would be, is the other guy’s price too low or was ours too high? Who makes that call? Obviously the owner gets the final say on who they choose to design / construct their project, but you know what they say about going with the low guy? If you don’t, just read this article The Low Bidder.

During the initial site visit, the owner states that they are on a tight schedule to get the restaurant up and running in a year. My estimate on the timeline was:

  • 1-3 months for design / permit ready drawings

  • 1-2 months for permit approvals via the City of Atlanta

  • 6 months for construction

  • 1 month contingency

In today’s market, it takes every player to be completely dialed in to make these kinds of deadlines happen.

THE OWNER’S DILEMMA


At the end of the day, most architects are selling an outcome. We aren’t selling a set of drawings, and we aren’t selling a finished building / space.

Someone hires an architect because they have a problem that they need solved, and are anticipating that we can help them solve that problem. That problem may get solved in the form of creative problem solving, years of expertise, research, or a combination of different things. This creative problem solving process is typically formalized in the way of a set of drawings. These drawings are used to show design intent to the owner, gain planning/permit approval from the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), and to explain to the contractor how to construct the project.

The owner has to take all of these things into account when putting their design / construction team together. So how does one make this decision when opening up a new restaurant for the first time? Referral from a friend or business associate maybe? Maybe they do a Google search, and read through all of the reviews. There are endless way to find an architect and contractor to bring your dreams to life.

If you’re in the research phase, and are just simply looking to chat on the next steps to take with your project please feel to reach out for some friendly advice :).

SELLING THE OUTCOME


An important distinction to make here, as previously mentioned, is that architects are selling a future state. The client has a problem, and the architect solves that problem. That’s an oversimplification, but those are the essentials of what we do.

All of the things in-between the problem and the solution are tools that help us get there. These tools / processes can vary as widely as you can imagine. Everyone has their own unique take on how to solve the problem which is what makes this a practice, and not an exact science.

If you ask ten different architects how to solve the same problem you will get eleven different answers. Architects have never been good at math, despite popular belief :).

THE BOTTOM LINE


Whatever your situation is, make sure that you bring in an architect as early as possible. They will be able to get the right professionals involved, help select a contractor, put the timelines together, research the permitting/planning requirements, and a whole host of other important things that it will take to get you up and running.

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